So I said in the last post that if your main purpose in life is serving others or even serving God, I doubt you’ve very happy. You may want to consider selling all of your possessions and commit to life as an ascetic. Frankly I think that’s nuts.
One of the ways I would define insanity (and I’m VERY qualified to speak on this topic!) is: “Unsoundness of mind to render a person unfit to maintain a relationship, or look after his or her own needs for emotional well being and survival.”
People who spend their existence worrying solely about the needs of others and not themselves are not noble, benevolent, and spiritual. They are just crazy.
And because they don’t look after their own needs first, they really can’t help others in a healthy way. They can console them, participate in their drama, or enable their co-dependence, but they can’t offer them real, meaningful help. Or to repeat an oft-quoted line from a character in Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead: “To say ‘I love you,’ one must first know how to say the word ‘I.’”
Hopefully by this stage in your life, you’ve discovered that to love anyone else, you must first love yourself. But have you done any real critical thinking on what that means on a practical application level? Rand taught that you must live your life by the fundamental values of:
Now let’s put this all together with our earlier discussion on selfishness, starting with purpose. We can then explore self-esteem and reason in some future posts.
I believe your highest moral purpose must be your own happiness.
Read that last sentence again, and let it breathe a little. Because this is the only healthy, sane way to live. And the only way that ensures the survival of the species, and the well being of the most people. In fact, it is the only honorable way to conduct any relationship.
You must not sacrifice yourself to others because that is depravity. Depravity because it is a certain state of moral corruption and degradation. It is sick, one of the most obvious symptoms of mental illness.
And likewise for the opposite situation, BTW. You shouldn’t ask others to sacrifice for you, for that is no less sick and depraved. Corrupting the morals of others is no less evil than corrupting your own.
It doesn’t serve anyone to degrade yourself or to degrade others. And that is exactly what sacrificing yourself for others is. In the book “Atlas Shrugged,” one of Rand’s main characters is asked, “What is the most depraved kind of human being?” His answer would likely surprise most people, since he doesn’t suggest a murderer, or rapist, or other sex offender. His answer is, “The man without a purpose.”
When Rand was asked why she suggested this as opposed to the other possibilities, she replied, “Because that aspect of their character lies at the root of and causes all the evils which you mentioned in your question. Sadism, dictatorship, or any form of evil, is the consequence of a man’s evasion of reality. A consequence of his failure to think. The man without a purpose is a man who drifts at the mercy of random feelings or unidentified urges and is capable of any evil, because he is totally out of control of his own life. In order to have control of your life, you have to have a purpose – a productive purpose.”
When you have your own happiness as your highest moral purpose, you have a productive – and moral – reason to exist. And here’s the important thing...
If everyone did this, the world would be a much better place! Think, really think about that for a minute.
Instead of dysfunction, depravity, and codependence, we would have healthy, functional, value-for-value relationships. No one would be asking others to sacrifice yourself for him or her, and you would behave the same way. That is the way healthy relationships are done.
Check in with your thoughts on this, and next time we’ll look at some other related issues.